By Chris Jennings
For the Oregon Beer Growler
In the wondrous age we live in, it seems as though technology can’t get any better. Then the new-and-improved smartphone model that will call your mom and email your boss at the same time hits store shelves. As you know, we can use our phones to surf the web, solve crossword puzzles and check in all of the beer that you drink to earn badges. But you can also get assistance with developing your homebrew.
There is a vast array of apps that pop up with just a simple search for “brewing” in whatever app store you have. Some — not all — are helpful for making beer and can be used throughout the entire process. Naturally, free is the best price when it comes to acquiring anything, but you also get what you pay for. Some of the no-cost apps may not have features you’re looking for. Some of the free apps for Android products include Biermacht, Brewing Assistant, Brewing Calculator, Brew Timer, and Wort Homebrew Calculator.
Biermacht, Brewing Assistant and Wort Homebrew Calculator are all full-service brewing apps. You can use them to build recipes, add and edit ingredients, and even plan brew days in advance so that your phone will remind you when it’s time to brew (not that you really need to be reminded about something you’re looking forward to, anyway). The best way to decide which app will work for you is to install and play with each to figure out what suits your brewing habits.
The other two apps work better as a tool for your brew day if you already have brewing software or just a recipe on paper. Brewing Calculator is exactly that — you can calculate everything from alcohol content and IBUs to even how much sugar is needed to bottle condition a beer. The app is a quick and easy way to calculate all the little equations that may get a little fuzzy after you’ve had a few of those tasty homebrews. Brew Timer allows you to program in all of your different beers’ hop schedules and save them for later use. You create an “event” and set the minutes once you’ve entered all of the information and start the timer. Basically, this app replaces the kitchen timer or the need to constantly watch the clock so that you don’t miss an addition.
In the land of the free brewing apps, those mentioned will work for most applications. Of course, you can purchase options with more bells and whistles. BeerSmith 2 is a popular option. It works in conjunction with your desktop, allowing you to keep track of your brewing process, share and compare recipes with other users, get assistance or inspiration through a podcast and much more. The price for both Mac and PC is $27.95.
Apps aren’t just for making beer — there are plenty that exist for entertainment. Untappd is designed as a social network for beer drinkers. You can rate the beer you’re consuming, list where you’re drinking it and even chat with friends about the beers they’re trying. This app also keeps track of the beers you check in, so if you can’t remember whether you like a brew you can look up your rating from the past. There are also brewing games like Fiz: The Brewery Management Game where players build their own brewery from the garage up, SimCity-style.
Have fun exploring the world of beer apps where one thing is certain: as technology improves there will likely be more ways to improve our batches of homebrew in the future.
Bell Hop Porter [AG]
Bell Hop Porter [Extract]
By Anthony St. Clair
For the Oregon Beer Growler
Beer apps have come a long way since the days of iBeer (you remember: “drink beer” on your phone). Today’s apps include versatile, useful tools: everything from beer tour itinerary builders and brewing calculators to flavor guides and assistance with ordering a beer in multiple languages. There’s even a brewery game. Here are some must-haves for your device.
Note: Generally apps are available for phones and tablets, but your mileage may vary. Apps were evaluated on an iPhone 5s running iOS 8.4.1.
Search, rate, discuss
iOS and Android
Combines beer news, online discussion forums, beer style profiles, events and user ratings/reviews. A free account is required for this reference app from the folks behind BeerAdvocate magazine. Many features could be more robust, such as narrowing down events by location and date. Styles are brief but provide a solid, non-technical overview, followed by most popular beers in that style. Beer listings default to recent reviews, with one option of filtering by the top 250 instead. The search is useful if you know exactly what you want; improved filtering would make searching reviews more useful. Overall, though, a handy app that is a free alternative to RateBeer.
All-in-one homebrew assistant, calculator, tracker and brew journal
iOS, Android and Kindle
From its humble desktop origins, BeerSmith has expanded to online forums, social media popularity, a regular blog and podcast, and, of course, handy mobile apps. In addition to integrating with cloud storage and more than 68,000 recipes at beersmithrecipes.com, BeerSmith’s simple, easy-to-use app interface helps beginning and advanced brewers search, build and manage recipes; review profiles of hundreds of ingredients; track all steps in the brewing and fermentation process; and run brew timers, calculators and converters. Professionals such as Hanns Anderson, head brewer at Eugene’s McMenamins High Street, have used BeerSmith, and it has something to help your homebrewing too.
Be the sensory expert you wish you were
How many times have you been at a loss for words when describing a beer? Beer Judge turns your phone into a taster, a sensory analyst and an amateur spectrophotometer. The Flavor Wheel feature lists flavor and aroma descriptors, and the Off Flavors guide shows at-a-glance and detailed descriptions of flaws. Tap any color on the Standard Reference Method (SRM) spectrum graphic for an SRM value, or use your device’s camera with the app’s Analyzer to calculate an SRM (you wouldn’t use it for a brewing lab analysis, but it’s a good ballpark figure for happy hour technical evaluation). Perfect for beer tastings and enhancing your competition chops.
Is your beer in style?
iOS and Android
A just-the-facts compilation of official 2008 and 2015 BJCP official beer styles. When you first open the app, you’ll be asked if you want to default to the 2008 or 2015 guidelines (you can switch between them at any time). Search for a style or scroll the list, then tap for the full profile. Text is well presented and easy to read, with controls to increase or decrease the size. While you can highlight and copy, functions to export to email, PDF or printing would be useful. A must-have for brewers, judges and enthusiasts.
Build your next beer tour
iOS and Android
Whether seeking out neighborhood places or planning a beer tour, BreweryMap builds itineraries and locates breweries, brewpubs, tasting rooms and more. Users can also add new listings or submit updates. The Road Trip function builds your next beer tour from start point to end point. Once you choose a route, the map fills in with pins. Tapping “List View” shows a list of locations in each locality: an Oregon Coast itinerary from Astoria to Brookings pulled up 21 locations in a 15-mile radius. Save itineraries for later reference too. The perfect app for the beertripper.
Who says brewing isn't a game?
iOS, Android and Windows
Whether you’re a homebrewer who dreams of owning a brewery or a beer pro who believes work is play, Fiz allows you to realize your dream of running your own brewery. With graphics and music reminiscent of ‘80s/’90s early Nintendo, Fiz allows you to start a brewery, analyze the market, develop recipes, brew beer, manage staff, enter competitions and more. Play during a few minutes’ break, or moonlight all weekend as a pixelated brewer. Fiz is rooted enough in reality to have real ingredients listed and a solid sense of the realities of brewing. And it’s fun enough that I better stop playing and finish writing this article.
Order a pint in 59 languages
Travel in foreign lands is all about mastering the basics of the local language. And it doesn’t get more essential than confidently ordering a beer in anything from Afrikaans (“n Bier, asseblief”) to Zulu (“nye ningi utshwala”). Pivo is simple, useful and fun for the global beertrotter. Alphabetically scroll a list of 59 languages, complete with phrase, phonetic pronunciation and video or audio. (Browse, search, or favorite functions would have minimized scrolling.) One caveat: this app’s last update was 2013 and is no longer being developed, but functionality was fine in testing. Does Google Translate do the same thing? Sí. Is it as cool? Nein.
Every beer everywhere
iOS and Android
Since 2000, RateBeer has become one of the beer world’s largest independent online communities and a go-to source for beer and location reviews and information. Take the pulse of any beer on the market: Who’s drinking it? What are they saying about it? Share what you think of what you drink, and rate where you’re enjoying that beer, cider, mead or sake. Whether searching by name or scanning a barcode, you get easy and quick access to beer data, including reviews, IBUs, ABVs, preferred glassware and more. Also curate your own wish lists and favorites, and search by location for bottle shops and watering holes near you.
A beer a day
iOS and Android
You know those “quotation a day” calendars that wind up under the Christmas tree? This is the beer version. Today’s Beer presents one beer, every day, along with beer info, bottle and pint views (with 360 degree rotation), beer color and more. (You can also look back at beers from the past seven days.) A simple interface with intuitive controls helps you dig as deep into a beer’s profile as you want. A must for beer hounds hunting inspiration, designers seeking ideas for novel labels and bottles, and anyone who knows that sometimes a bit of daily random inspiration is all you need to keep your palate dazzled and intrigued.
Never drink alone/
iOS, Android, and Windows
The “Facebook of beer” makes sure your drinking is always social. See the latest with the beer world in three main ways: “Friends” lets you see what folks you follow are doing. “Global” goes macro with updates from users all over the world. And “Nearby” tells you what users are enjoying in your area. Fancy an old favorite or something new? Seek out beers, pubs and breweries popular and nearby, and keep tabs on trends for the next tipple you should try.
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